Celebrating our First in the Family Scholars

Each year, the Faculty of Business and Economics provides scholarships to talented students, who might otherwise be unable to attend university.

The First in the Family Scholarship brings some of the brightest minds to Melbourne. This year, we want to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate these students, even though we can’t all be in the same room. We spoke with some of our recipients, to hear their thoughts, and find out what coming to Melbourne means to them.

Tiffiny Argyropoulos – First in Family Scholar

“My name is Tiffiny Argyropoulos. I am from Melbourne and have a Greek Orthodox background.

Tiffiny Argyropoulos
Tiffiny Argyropoulos.

I am the first person in my immediate family to attend university and am honoured to be completing my studies at the University of Melbourne. I have a keen interest in business and am looking forward to exploring the different commerce majors to find my niche. When I finish my BCom, I potentially want to go on and complete the Melbourne JD.

I am grateful to be a recipient of the First in the Family Scholarship and would like to express my thanks to the donors and the university. This scholarship will provide me with access to additional support and financial assistance during the course of my studies, allowing me to extend my capabilities in this discipline and achieve success at university.”

Philip Phung – First in Family Scholar

“My name is Philip Phung and I am a recipient of the First in Family Scholarship. I graduated in 2019 from Whitefriars College, Melbourne, and currently live with my parents, paternal grandparents, and my younger brother.

Philip Phung
Philip Phung

Both my parents and grandparents immigrated from Vietnam as refugees from the conflict, meaning that they never had the opportunity to pursue university/secondary education properly. Being the firstborn in Australia meant I had pressure from my family to achieve academic success and most importantly, be the first to attend university. I was lucky enough to receive an offer from the University of Melbourne, and even luckier to receive the scholarship. Having this scholarship shall aid me tremendously with my studies, since it removes the financial burden of university life.”

Robert Xu – First in Family Scholar

“Hi there, I’m Robert! I’m extremely excited to be studying Commerce at the University of Melbourne. My passion for Commerce originates from my family’s own financial troubles.

Robert Xu
Robert Xu.

How can some coloured ink on flimsy paper have such profound effects for everyone around the world? Why do some individuals or nations amass greater wealth than others? I hope to possess the skills and knowledge required to explore these big questions.

Growing up as a first-generation immigrant in a regional town, I have always understood that education was the means by which I could break down socioeconomic barriers. This has been my motivation to continually improve myself and help those around me.

For me, the impact of receiving the First in the Family Scholarship extends far beyond its monetary value. The scholarship instils a hope that I can succeed in whatever I choose to pursue and encourages me to make the most of all possible opportunities in the next three years and beyond.”

Pinidu Chandrasekera – First in Family Scholar

“My name is Pinidu Chandrasekera and I'm a first year university student proudly born and bred in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

Pinidu Chandrasekera
Pinidu Chandrasekera.

From a young age my parents have always instilled in me the importance of getting involved and throwing myself at as many opportunities as I possibly can. For me, this philosophy manifested itself into a lifelong passion for sports (particularly cricket and the mighty Collingwood football club), involvement in school leadership, competing at state/national debating and public speaking competitions, and multiple appearances on the ABC’s Q&A panel. I intend to approach my tertiary studies with this same enthusiasm as I embark on the Bachelor of Commerce which I hope to be able to supplement with a Juris Doctor. Thanks to your help, I can throw myself into the myriad of extra-curricular opportunities that university life has to offer. Thank you again for your kind generosity and I hope to meet you in person soon.”

Heaven Mulugeta Hailu – First in Family Scholar

“Hi, I'm Heaven Mulugeta Hailu. Growing up as a daughter to Ethiopian immigrants, there was a strong emphasis on education, and its ability to improve one's situation despite the circumstances they may face.

Heaven Hailu
Heaven Mulugeta Hailu.

I went to St Aloysius College for high school, where I developed a passion for being involved in the community. As a result, I participated in numerous initiatives and volunteer opportunities at our local community centre. I became interested in studying commerce because of the demonstrated by the alumni who pursued such varied careers. Being awarded this scholarship is an incredible honour, and I am incredibly thankful.”

Tahlia Eastwood – The O’Rourke Family First in Family Scholar

“I want to share a bit about myself and the journey I’ve been on to get here. I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne with my parents and three brothers.

Tahlia Eastwood
Tahlia Eastwood with her parents.

I’ve always loved learning and discovering new things and I found my love for commerce when I began VCE Accounting and Economics a couple years ago. Initially, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to further my studies at university, but my mind soon changed when I discovered all the different possibilities that arose from completing a Commerce degree. I eventually discovered Actuarial Studies and decided it was the path for me!

At this point in time I aspire to become an actuary when I graduate. I want to thank you again for the scholarship and the added motivation that accompanies it. The easing of the financial burden of my tuition is a real gift, especially in this time of economic uncertainty.”

Jianhao Huang – Karman Hsu First in Family Scholar

“My family and I migrated from China to Australia in 2011.

Jianhao Huang
Jianhao Huang.

I came to Australia without a word of English and now, almost 10 years later, I have found myself to be greatly passionate about linguistics alongside my Commerce aspirations. I will be pursuing a breadth in “Languages, society and culture” in second semester this year to further develop my knowledge in this. It is fascinating to learn and see the power of language in facilitating intercultural communication and provide each one of us with a unique strand of identity… As the first person attending tertiary education in my family, this scholarship will greatly alleviate the financial burden that my parents have to bear. On a more personal note, I feel this scholarship would provide me with more networking opportunities, such as by being part of the scholar’s program and attend regular events that is made available by the scholarship.”

Holly Rothnie – Anonymous Singapore First in Family Scholar

Holly Rothnie
Holly Rothnie.

My name is Holly, and I come from South Melbourne, Victoria and I have just begun studying at the University of Melbourne.

Having just commenced my first year of Commerce, I am currently planning on majoring in both Finance and Economics but am open to seeing where this journey takes me both during my degree and beyond. Being awarded the ‘first in family scholarship’ has opened up an incredible number of opportunities for me to experience that I may not have previously been able to have. For this, I am extremely grateful and would like to thank you for your generous donations.